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Tue, April 23

Townsend steps down as Prescott High girls' hoops coach

Missy Townsend confirmed Thursday that she has resigned as the Prescott High varsity girls' basketball coach after guiding the Lady Badgers to six state tournament appearances in seven seasons.

Townsend, a full-time history teacher at PHS, said she's taking a "semi-sabbatical" from coaching to focus on her family and raising her six children.

"I'm really happy with where the program's at and kind of what I'm leaving behind," said Townsend, adding that she had been planning to step down after last season before deciding to give it one more year. "I still love basketball and I love the program and the girls."

Prescott High Athletic Director Mark Goligoski, who said he will conduct interviews with coaching candidates next week, praised Townsend for her coaching skills as well as for founding a booster club and tournaments, such as the Lady Badger Classic.

He added that Townsend had a knack for building a program into a family. For instance, she invited her former players back to campus to conduct workouts and help coach during games.

"She just did an amazing job across the board," Goligoski said. "She had those girls active all year long in a real nice, well-paced manner. They had lots of opportunities to grow and develop. And that was all from her hard work and dedication."

This past winter, Division 2, Section 2 Prescott finished the campaign with an 11-10 overall record (8-10 in power-point games) and a 2-4 mark in section play. As a result, the Lady Badgers missed the playoffs for the first time since Townsend took over the program in 2007-08.

PHS lost five games in a row, including three sectional contests, to end the season from Jan. 28 through Feb. 6, which sealed its fate.

"That wasn't a determining factor in me not coming back," Townsend said of the way the 2013-14 season ended. "Our record didn't show how close our games were and what a legitimate shot we had at winning them."

The highlight of Townsend's tenure came in 2009-10 and 2010-11, when the Lady Badgers advanced to the state semifinals of the former Class 4A, Division 1. In the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons as part of the new D-2, Prescott reached the playoffs' second round on both occasions.

"I love the relationships that I've built with the girls (through the years)," Townsend said. "There have been a lot of special moments with them."

PHS faced a daunting challenge this past season, as all five starters that were on its 2012-13 team (21-9 record) graduated last May.

This year's Lady Badgers squad was talented and yet packed with underclassmen - girls who probably needed a full season under their belts before making a serious push like their predecessors.

In addition, Prescott's schedule was tougher this winter than the past two seasons after the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) realigned its divisions. PHS faced more Phoenix-area opponents and was in one of the most competitive sections in D-2 along with state qualifiers Bradshaw Mountain, Flagstaff High, Flagstaff Coconino and Kingman.

Townsend said last November that she embraced the challenge for her girls, adding that it would improve their standing in the long run.

"Our schedule's totally going to help us with power points, and it will prepare us better for the postseason," she added. "Making the postseason has been an expectation of mine in the seven years I've been here. There's no doubt in my mind we'll be back. The future of the program is very bright."

Townsend praised the program's booster club and its parents, as well as Goligoski, for their support of her as the coach.

In the coming year, Townsend, who has a master's degree in sports management, said she hopes to shadow Goligoski to learn more about the administrative side of athletics.

"I still want to be a part of the athletic department and the PHS athletic scene," Townsend added. "I know that whoever comes in and takes over the program will be able to brand it themselves but have a really good start with some great players and parents, and the foundation of it all."

Follow Doug Cook on Twitter @dougout_dc

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